Rock the Oscars 2019: TRUE GRIT (both versions)

In 1969, Arkansan Charles Portis’ novel True Grit was made into a movie starring John Wayne and Arkansan Glen Campbell.  Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Corey and Strother Martin are also in the cast.

The movie was directed by Henry Hathaway, produced by Hal B. Wallis, and written by Marguerite Roberts.  Wilford Brimley and Jay Silverheels are uncredited actors in the movie.

Though set in Arkansas and Oklahoma, the movie was filmed in Colorado.  Elvis Presley was the first choice for the part Campbell would play. But when his manager demanded top billing (over Wayne), he was bypassed and the part went to Campbell.

The movie was nominated for two Oscars: Wayne for Best Actor and composer Elmer Bernstein and lyricist Don Black for the song “True Grit.”  The latter had been sung by Campbell in the movie.

Wayne won the Oscar that night, his only win.  He would reprise the character of Rooster Cogburn in the eponymously named sequel in 1975. This film, in which he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn, was his penultimate film.

In 1970, Campbell teamed up with Kim Darby again in a film written by Roberts based on a Portis book. This time it was Norwood.  It also starred Joe Namath, Carol Lynley, Meredith MacRae, and Dom DeLuise.  It did not repeat the success of the earlier Portis based movie.

In 2010, the Coen Brothers released a new version of Charles Portis’ True Grit.  Co-written and co-directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, it starred Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Domhnall Gleeson and Elizabeth Marvel.  Unlike the original film, which was filmed in Colorado, this film was actually filmed partially in Arkansas, where  several scenes takes place.  Filming also took place in Texas.  Many Arkansas actors appeared in the film, but at the risk of omitting some, there will not be an attempt to name them.

The film received ten Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Directing, Leading Actor (Bridges), Supporting Actress (Steinfeld), Cinematography, Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Art Direction.  Sadly, the film went home empty handed.

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18 Cultural Events from 2018 – OXFORD AMERICAN celebrates 50 years of TRUE GRIT

Image result for true grit 50 oxford americanThroughout April, the Oxford American magazine haled a series of events to mark “50 Years of True Grit.” It culminated with programs over the weekend of April 20-21, 2018, to celebrate the anniversary of the publication of the beloved novel by Charles Portis, one of the magazine’s most acclaimed contributors.

The festivities included panel discussions, readings, tours, museum exhibits, film screenings, and a special Saturday-night variety show, featuring comedy, music by Portis’s fellow Arkansas native Iris DeMent, and appearances and performances by the book’s notable fans.

Published by Simon & Schuster in 1968 (after it was first serialized in the Saturday Evening Post), True Grit earned immediate popularity and critical praise as a rousing frontier adventure tale in which fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross seeks to avenge her father’s murder with the aid of a down-at-the-heels federal marshal named Rooster Cogburn. Over the past half-century, readers of all ages have come to treasure the book as a classic of American literature. The book has inspired two award-winning films-the 1969 version, which earned John Wayne his sole Academy Award, and the 2010 remake by Joel and Ethan Coen starring Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges.

“So few books stand the test of time but True Grit’s literary reputation and its popularity have only grown in fifty years,” said Jay Jennings, a senior editor at the Oxford American and editor of the collection Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany. “We thought the book’s landmark anniversary deserved a big celebration in the state that is the setting for much of the book and the home of both the author and the magazine.” Portis has published a number of humor pieces in the Oxford American and in 2010 was awarded the magazine’s inaugural prize for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literature.

In October it was announced that the Oxford American was the 2019 recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council’s Governor’s Arts Award for Folklife.

31 Days of Arkansas Rep: Charles Portis’ DELRAY’S NEW MOON in 1996

When you’ve written one of the great American novels of the second half of the 20th Century and seen it turned into an Oscar winning movie, what do you do next?  You continue writing.

And if you are Charles Portis, you decide in the 1990s to try your hand at a play.  So in 1996, the Arkansas Rep offered a staged reading of Portis’ play Delray’s New Moon. 

Directed by Rep Artistic Director Cliff Baker, it was set in a honky tonk hotel halfway between Little Rock and Texarkana. Most of the people there are senior citizens awaiting their next location whether it be a nursing home or a relative’s house.

The cast featured Scott Edmonds played a father being shuffled each month between his daughters played by Judy Trice and Natalie Canerday.  Others in the cast included Danielle Rosenthal, Jean Lind, John Stiritz, Michael Davis, Graham Gordy, Stacy Breeding, Angel Bailey, Rhonda Atwood and Tom Kagy.

The production ran from April 18 to 28.  The normally reclusive Portis participated in talkback sessions following performances.

Rock the Oscars: TRUE GRIT, Part 2

In 2010, the Coen Brothers released a new version of Charles Portis’ True Grit.  (As a reminder, Portis had roots in Central Arkansas and was once a writer for the Arkansas Gazette.)

Co-written and co-directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, it starred Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Domhnall Gleeson and Elizabeth Marvel.  Unlike the original film, which was filmed in Colorado, this film was actually filmed partially in Arkansas, where  several scenes takes place.  Filming also took place in Texas.  Many Arkansas actors appeared in the film, but at the risk of omitting some, there will not be an attempt to name them.

The film received ten Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Directing, Leading Actor (Bridges), Supporting Actress (Steinfeld), Cinematography, Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Art Direction.  Sadly, the film went home empty handed.

 

 

Rock the Oscars, TRUE GRIT – Part 1

Fifty years ago, former Arkansas Gazette reporter Charles Portis wrote a novel entitled True Grit.  It is more than a work of literature, it is a work of art.  In April 2018, the Oxford American will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of the novel with a series of events.

In 1969, the movie was made into a movie starring John Wayne and Arkansan Glen Campbell.  Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Corey and Strother Martin are also in the cast.  The movie was directed by Henry Hathaway, produced by Hal B. Wallis, and written by Marguerite Roberts.  Wilford Brimley and Jay Silverheels are uncredited actors in the movie.

Though set in Arkansas and Oklahoma, the movie was filmed in Colorado.  Elvis Presley was the first choice for the part Campbell would play. But when his manager demanded top billing (over Wayne), he was bypassed and the part went to Campbell.

The movie was nominated for two Oscars: Wayne for Best Actor and composer Elmer Bernstein and lyricist Don Black for the song “True Grit.”  The latter had been sung by Campbell in the movie.

Wayne won the Oscar that night, his only win.  He would reprise the character of Rooster Cogburn in the eponymously named sequel in 1975. This film, in which he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn, was his penultimate film.

In 1970, Campbell teamed up with Kim Darby again in a film written by Roberts based on a Portis book. This time it was Norwood.  It also starred Joe Namath, Carol Lynley, Meredith MacRae, and Dom DeLuise.  It did not repeat the success of the earlier Portis based movie.

Creative Class of 2015: Jay Jennings

jennings_jayAuthor, raconteur, and music aficionado Jay Jennings contributes to Little Rock’s cultural life in a variety of ways as a participant and promoter. He may well know more about author Charles Portis, than the author himself.  When not traveling to discuss or create good literature, he is often found at various Little Rock music venues.

Jennings is a freelance writer whose journalism, book reviews and humor have appeared in many national magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Oxford American, and Travel & Leisure. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the San Francisco Chronicle, and is a past chair of the Arkansas Literary Festival.

He began his writing career as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, where he covered college football and basketball, followed by four years as the features editor at Tennis magazine. While at the latter, he edited an anthology of short stories and poetry, Tennis and the Meaning of Life: A Literary Anthology of the Game(Breakaway Books, 1999), which the New Yorker called “a delight—and perhaps a surprise—to those who know and care about literature.” His work has been recognized by The Best American Sports Writing annual and has appeared in the humor anthology Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor. He is a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow in fiction and was awarded a grant in 2008 from the Arkansas Arts Council for a novel-in-progress. Most recently, he edited a collection of Charles Portis’s work, Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany, which was published in 2012 by Butler Center Books and in paperback in 2013 by Overlook Press.

Carry the Rock: Race, Football and the Soul of an American City was his first book and was named a 2010 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

Little Rock Oscar Quiz Answers

Here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz.

MarySteenburgenDec091.  Which Oscar winner gave future Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen her first break in the movies?
C – Jack Nicholson – for the film Going South

2.  In which category was The Hanging Tree (which starred Little Rock native Ben Piazza) nominated for an Oscar?
C – Song – The eponymous title song

3.  Which former Little Rock resident won an Honorary Oscar in 1958?
B – Gilbert “Broncho Billy” Anderson

4.  The Oscar winning documentary short “Nine from Little Rock” was narrated by which member of the Little Rock Nine?
C – Jefferson Thomas

5.  In addition to receiving an Oscar for the live action short “The Accountant,” Ray McKinnon has appeared in several Oscar winning films.  In which of these Oscar winners did he NOT appear?
C – Driving Miss Daisy

6.  Arkansas actor Rick Dial acted with many heavyweights during his film career. With which of these Oscar winners did he NOT appear?
B – Chris Cooper

christmas-story7.  Twice nominated for an Oscar, Arkansan Melinda Dillon is perhaps best known for appearing in which iconic holiday film?
A – A Christmas Story – as Ralphie’s mom

8.  How many Oscar nominees and winners starred in The Firm, which was filmed partially in Arkansas?
D – 7 – Gary Busey, Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Hal Holbrook, Holly Hunter, David Strathairn

9.  Little Rock Film Festival honorees Harry and Linda Bloodworth Thomason produced the Arkansas-set TV show “Evening Shade.” Which Oscar nominated actor did NOT appear in that show?
D – Billy Bob Thornton – He appeared in their Hearts Afire sitcom

10.  The song “Get Back to Little Rock” is featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary The War Room.  Who sang the song in the film?
C – Jason D. Williams

11.  Leo Robin and Jule Styne, who wrote the song “Little Girl from Little Rock” each won Oscars.  For which song did Robin win a Best Song Oscar?
D – “Thanks for the Memory”

12.  For which song did Styne win a Best Song Oscar?
D – “Three Coins in the Fountain”

13.  Prior to receiving four Academy Award nominations, Beasts of the Southern Wild was a hit at the Little Rock Film Festival.  Quvenzhané Wallis, the film’s star, made Oscar history by becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee.  How old was she?
B – 9

14.  The late Bob Ginnaven was a Little Rock adman and actor.  In addition to Steel Magnolias, in which Oscar- nominated film, did he also appear with Dolly Parton?
A – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

father bride15.  Little Rock native George Newbern (and Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre alum) has twice appeared on film as the son-in-law of which Oscar winning actress?
B – Diane Keaton – Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II

16.  Little Rock Hall graduate, Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre alum and Pulitzer Prize winning writer David Auburn has written three movies. Which of the following Oscar winners has NOT starred in one of his movies?
A – Adrien Brody

17.  Which Oscar winner starred in the TV movie Crisis at Central High?
D – Joanne Woodward

18. The Oscar nominated film The Story of Dr. Wassell starred Gary Cooper as World War II hero and Little Rock native Dr. Corydon M. Wassell (who was related to two Little Rock mayors).  It was directed by which Oscar winner?
A – Cecil B. DeMille

19.  Which Oscar winning actress appeared on stage at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre?
B – Mercedes McCambridge in ‘night, Mother

20.  Which film starring former Little Rock resident Dick Powell won 5 Oscars?
A – The Bad and the Beautiful

21.  Scenes from A Soldier’s Story were filmed at Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock.  Which of the following Oscar winning or nominated actors did not appear in that movie?
B – Morgan Freeman

bloody-mama-poster22.  Which movie filmed in Arkansas boasted an Oscar winner and Oscar nominee as well as a future Oscar winner and future Oscar nominee among its cast?
A – Bloody Mama – Shelley Winters, Diane Varsi, Robert DeNiro and Bruce Dern.  Robert Walden, who starred in the Arkansas Rep production of Death of a Salesman made his movie debut in this film.

23.  Ted Danson, Emmy winning actor and co-owner of Little Rock restaurant South on Main, appeared in which Oscar winning film?
C – Saving Private Ryan

24.  In addition to Mary Steenburgen, Central Arkansas-filmed End of the Line boasted several award winning (and future award winning) actors.  Which of the following cast members has not, to date, been nominated for an Oscar?
A – Kevin Bacon

25.  Oscar nominated Michael Shannon has appeared in each of the movies to date directed by Little Rock native Jeff Nichols. Several other Oscar winners and nominees have appeared in Nichols’ films. Which of the following have not yet appeared in a Jeff Nichols production?
C – Amy Ryan

MacArthur Peck26. Oscar winner Gregory Peck appeared on the silver screen as which political candidate with a Little Rock connection?
B – Douglas MacArthur

27. Arkansan Jason Moore directed a recent Broadway revival of Steel Magnolias. Which Oscar nominated actress from the 1970s appeared in it?
D – Marsha Mason

28. Arkansas native John Grisham was an early supporter of the Oxford American. Many of his novels have been turned into feature films. In addition to The Firm, which other Grisham-based film, has earned an actor an Oscar nomination?
B – The Client – Susan Sarandon, Best Actress

29. Shortly after appearing in Little Rock for an event around the opening of Robinson Auditorium, Maureen O’Hara filmed which Best Picture Oscar winner?
A – How Green Was My Valley

30. Oscar winner Lisa Blount made a name for herself in An Officer and a Gentleman. Which of her costars won an Oscar for appearing in that film?
B – Louis Gossett, Jr.

31. Carol Channing, who played “Little Girl from Little Rock” Lorelei Lee on stage, received an Oscar nomination for which movie?
D – Thoroughly Modern Millie

32. Which multiple Oscar nominee has been a featured speaker at the Clinton School?
B – John Lithgow

33. South Pacific‘s heroine, Nellie Forbush, is from Little Rock. The film was nominated for three Oscars, receiving a win in one of the categories. In which of the following categories was the film NOT nominated?
B – Film Editing

34. Delight native Glenn Campbell, who recently gave his farewell Little Rock performance at Robinson Center Music Hall, co-starred with which actor who received an Oscar for that performance?
D – John Wayne in True Grit

35. Oscar winner Shirley Jones is appearing with Celebrity Attractions in Central Arkansas next season and has appeared previously with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. For which film did she win her Oscar?
C – Elmer Gantry

36. The Arkansas Rep production of Les Miserables runs from March 5 through April 6.  Last year a film version of this classic musical received 8 nominations. How many Oscars did it win?
B – Three

hal n at lrff37. The Little Rock Film Festival honored Arkansas native Hal Needham in 2011. He received Scientific and Technical Oscar in 1987 and an Honorary Oscar in 2013. Which of the following Oscar winners did NOT appear in a movie directed by Needham?
B – Jack Lemmon – But his son Chris appeared in Cannonball Run II

38. John Corigliano will be featured with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in the 2014-2015 season. For which film did he win an Oscar?
C – The Red Violin

39. In the 1990s, Wildwood Park for the Arts featured several performers who have also been subjects of Oscar winning films. Which of the following Oscar winning or nominated movies is about someone who performed at Wildwood?
A – Coal Miner’s Daughter – Loretta Lynn

40. As a young actor, which future Oscar nominee performed scenes from Shakespeare on the stage of Little Rock Central auditorium as part of a national tour?
C – Hal Holbrook

41. Nominated for tonight’s Oscars for the song from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Bono and The Edge performed in the rain at the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center. For which film were they previously Oscar nominated?
B – Gangs of New York

42. Dave Brubeck performed at Wildwood several times. Which 2013 Oscar winner featured music by Brubeck?
C – Silver Linings Playbook

43. Which Oscar winner appeared in Little Rock for a fundraiser for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre?
A – Julie Andrews

44. Political writer Joe Klein appeared at the third Arkansas Literary Festival. His novel Primary Colors (published with the author name “Anonymous”) was made into an Oscar nominated movie. Which of the following stars of the movie has not won an Oscar?
D – John Travolta

Dick_powell_-_publicity45. Which Little Rock actor has served as an Oscar co-host?
C – Dick Powell – in 1948

46. Which Oscar winner and Oscar host has performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra?
D – Liza Minnelli

47. Which Oscar nominated or winning actor, who has been acclaimed for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, appeared at the Clinton School in 2009?
D – Sam Waterston

48. The works of former Little Rock resident and acclaimed composer William Grant Still have been featured in many movies. Which Oscar winning screwball comedy featured the music of Still?
A – The Awful Truth

49. Which writer, whose writings have inspired two Oscar nominated movies, has been featured in Little Rock-based Oxford American?
D – Charles Portis

50. In which movie did Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen NOT appear with back-to-back Oscar winner Jason Robards?
D – Time After Time

51. What happened to Oscar winner Elia Kazan in Little Rock?
C – He was married – to actress Barbara Loden. His son lived in Little Rock at the time.

52. Oscar nominated actor Roy Scheider died in Little Rock. In the 1970s, he received two Oscar nominations. In addition to a nod for The French Connection, for which other film did he receive a nomination?
A – All that Jazz

53. Paris, Ark. native and UCA alum James Bridges was an acclaimed director and screenwriter. In addition to receiving an Oscar nomination for writing The Paper Chase (which earned a Supporting Actor Oscar for John Houseman), for which other project did Bridges receive an Oscar nomination?
B – The China Syndrome

54. Bill Clinton is one-fourth of the way to EGOT status.  Which award has he received?
B – Grammy – in 2004 the Spoken Word Album for Children for a version of Peter and the Wolf

55. Brinkley native Louis Jordan’s song “Stone Cold Dead in the Market” appears in which Oscar winning movie?
B – Raging Bull

lewis_congressman_john56. Congressman John Lewis is one of the featured speakers at the 2014 Arkansas Literary Festival. In which Oscar-nominated documentary is Rep. Lewis featured?
A – Eyes on the Prize

57. Mavis Staples, who appeared at Little Rock’s Christ Episcopal Church in 2013, can be heard on the soundtrack of which Oscar-winning film?
B – The Help

58. Arkansas native Tess Harper received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Crimes of the Heart. Which Oscar winning actress did not play one of her cousins in that film?
A – Sally Field

59.  Little Rock Film Festival honoree Jay Russell is branching out into theatrical producing.  Which Oscar nominated Hitchcock film is the inspiration for his upcoming Broadway production?
B. Rear Window

60. In addition to being married to former Little Rock resident Helen Gurley Brown, David Brown was a movie producer. For which of these Oscar nominated films did he, himself receive an Oscar nomination?
D. The Verdict

61. Which Oscar nominated Documentary Feature was honored at the 2013 Little Rock Film Festival?
B. Dirty Wars

62.  Which Oscar winning director helmed The Last Waltz, a documentary which featured Arkansan Levon Helm?
C – Martin Scorsese

63. John Glenn, who was featured guest at the Museum of Discovery during the Clinton Library opening, was also a character in the Oscar winning film The Right Stuff.  Which actor portrayed him in that film?
B – Ed Harris

64. The work of which fashion icon, whose dresses often adorn Oscar ceremony attendees, was featured at the Clinton Presidential Center in 2013?
C – Oscar de la Renta

judge fleming65. Little Rock District Judge Vic Fleming appears in the documentary Wordplay. Another person who is featured is which Oscar host?
D – Jon Stewart

66. Part-time Little Rock resident Judge Reinhold spoofed an Oscar winning Best Picture as part of his appearance as the iconic “close talker” on Seinfeld. Which movie was it?
C – Schindler’s List

67. This summer the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will present Hamlet. The 1948 version of this movie is, to date, the only filmed version of a Shakespeare play to win Best Picture. Which actor won an Oscar for appearing in this movie?
B – Laurence Olivier

68. Mary Steenburgen starred in the Oscar nominated film Cross Creek, which was a biopic of the author of which novel?
D – The Yearling

69. On which TV show hosted by an Oscar host, did Governor Bill Clinton appear in 1988?
A – Johnny Carson

70. Hot Springs native Alan Ladd is perhaps best remembered for essaying the title role in Shane. The film was nominated for six Oscars and received one.  For which category did it win the Oscar?
A – Cinematography, Color

71. Edward Everett Horton starred in the first play to be booked into Robinson Auditorium in April 1940. With a long and varied film career, he appeared in many Oscar nominated and winning films. Which of the following Horton films did NOT win an Oscar?
A – The Front Page

72. Gordon MacRae was the featured performer at the 1963 opening of the Arkansas Arts Center. Which of his films won two Oscars?
C – Oklahoma!

73. Which Oscar nominee appeared in Little Rock in conjunction with Ballet Arkansas?
B – Mikhail Barishnikov

74. The main branch of the Central Arkansas Library System has the names of authors inscribed around the top, one of which is Harper Lee.  Not only was her To Kill a Mockingbird turned into an Oscar winning movie, an actress received an Oscar nomination for portraying Lee in a film.  Which actress?
C – Catherine Keener

pscdutton75. Charles S. Dutton recently appeared at Philander Smith College’s Bless the Mic series. In which Oscar nominated sci-fi film was he a performer?
B – Alien 3

76. Little Rock Catholic High grad Gil Gerard appeared in which Oscar nominated 1970s disaster film?
C – Airport 77

77. With which two time Oscar winner who was the daughter of an Oscar winner did Ben Piazza twice share the stage?
B – Jane Fonda

78. Little Rock native Frank Bonner guest starred on a variety show hosted by which Oscar winner?
A – George Burns

79. Which Little Rock museum recently hosted an exhibit on Gone with the Wind?
C – Historic Arkansas Museum

80. Which Oscar nominated actress was featured in the Disney Channel movie The Ernest Green Story?
B – Ruby Dee

81. Bruno, which starred Joey Lauren Adams was feature film directorial debut of which Oscar winning performer?
C – Shirley MacLaine

wesbentley82. Which cast member from the 2000 Best Picture winner had previously acted on local Little Rock stages?
B. Wes Bentley appeared in American Beauty

83. James Earl Jones has appeared in Central Arkansas several times including with the Arkansas Symphony and at UCA. For which movie did he receive an Oscar nomination?
D. The Great White Hope

84. Which multiple Oscar nominated performer was appointed to head a federal agency by President Clinton?
A. Jane Alexander – served as head of the National Endowment for the Arts during his first term.

85. Oscar nominated film So This Is Washington focused on which Arkansas duo?
C. Lum and Abner

Ben and DeNiro86. Ben Piazza’s final feature film appearance was a Darryl F. Zanuck in the film Guilty by Suspicion. Zanuck was a recipient of the Irving Thalberg Award. Which of the following is true about Zanuck?
A – First Thalberg Award recipient
B – Only three time Thalberg Award recipient
C – Only Thalberg recipient to also be the father of a Thalberg recipient
D – Last person to receive a Thalberg who was a previous recipient
All of these are true